Friday, November 30, 2007

Karen Cushman, Catherine Called Birdy

Karen Cushman, Catherine Called Birdy. Oh, this was delightful. A very stubborn young girl keeps a diary in 1290. God's thumbs! I don't know how I missed this in grade school (oh, it was written in 1994 - I am old!) because the fleas alone would have been fascinating. The home medical remedies were vile, but from what I remember of medieval medical history, Birdy's patients were probably pretty well off. Well, I needed a respite from writing a very horrible term paper for Ethical Theory and this was perfect.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Ernest J. Gaines, A Lesson before Dying

Ernest J. Gaines, A Lesson before Dying. Moving. Like a blunt instrument to the skull.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Christopher Moore, Coyote Blue

Christopher Moore, Coyote Blue. Coyote, the trickster, comes to life and causes chaos in a respectable insurance broker's life. Slapstick funny, charming, easy to read in a sitting. It was a little like eating a whole box of marshmallow peeps, though. It's fun and sweet, but afterwards you have a headache and you are vaguely disgusted with yourself.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Jane Maienschein, Whose View of Life?

Jane Maienschein, Whose View of Life? If you are looking for a passionately argued viewpoint on when life begins and how research should be conducted, you won't find it here. Jane doesn't present a picture of bad guys and good guys. Instead this book is a careful analysis of the history and research of embryos, cloning, and stem cells. I found the history of embryology fascinating, as well as the earlier (1970's) history of molecular biology - I loved learning about developmental biology.I didn't enjoy the latter sections of the book (on cloning and stem cells) that had a greater focus on policy, but that probably reflects my own preferences. This book is pretty rare, in that it presents carefully researched science, detailed history, as well as a balanced look at how science policy is made while still being readable. I have to make a disclaimer that it's by my favorite teacher, so how could I not enjoy it?

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Kim Edwards, The Memory Keeper's Daughter

Kim Edwards, The Memory Keeper's Daughter. I had the pleasure of reading this during a weekend spent comfortably on the couch reading companionably alongside an old and dear friend. This rosy scenario probably contributed to my enjoyment of the story. A doctor delivering his own unexpected twins made a snap decision to secretly send away a daughter with Down's syndrome and raise only the healthy son. When he told his sedated wife about their daughter, he inexplicably said she was stillborn. It was one of those deceptions that has unfathomable repercussions and is very hard to back out of. The novel traces both the doctor's family and the life of the daughter who was mercifully kidnapped and raised by the attending nurse. Now that I recall the story, it seems contrived and and the twists of the plot slightly predictable, but nevertheless, it was pleasant.